From: Sarah Wheaton [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Thursday, July 16, 2015 12:21 PM
To: Velz, Peter T. EOP
Subject: pool report 4 - prison tour
This amends earlier descriptions of buildings.
The sprawling El Reno complex includes sections of buildings separated by large green yards, some of which have trees, inviting comparisons to a military base, except for the fences with barbed wire that separate different sections.
Many buildings resembled from the outside Cell Blook B, which POTUS toured after his roundtable with six inmates.
Outside, this building is a two-story amber-colored brick, two stories, with a brick-red-colored, slatted roof (note this changed description from earlier)/
This building holds the Residential Drug Abuse Prevention Unit. But it was emptied today for the president’s visit.
Inside, there are two long rows of cells, on two floors. The room was totally open, with natural light shining in from a skylight.
The floor is polished concrete. The cell doors and bottom halves of the walls are painted grey, top half of walls painted white.
Obama walked down center area with Charles Samuels, Bureau of Prisons, in a suit, and Director Ronald Warlick, Correctional Officer. They invited him to look inside cell 123. It had two beds – one that could be turned into a bunk. Tan uniforms hung on the wall. There was a window with three bars, about a foot wide and 2.5-3feet tall. A sink and toilet in the corner, and three storage lockers.
Will try to send more color later.
Obama started speaking at about 11:24 am, for about 8 minutes. He took one question.
Thanks to Bloomberg’s Toluse Olorunnipa and KGOU’s Kate Carlton for help with notes.
10:24 We have to consider whether this is the smartest way for us to both control crime and rehabilitate individuals 10:32
11:16 We have to reconsider whether 20 year, 30 year, life sentences for nonviolent crimes is the best way for us to solve these problems 11:24
job training, college degrees, drug counseling
11:41 The question is, not only, how do we make sure we sustain those programs here in the prison, but how to we make sure that those same kind of institutional supports are there for kids and teenagers before they get into the criminal justice system. 11:55
Are there ways to divert young people who make mistakes?
6 inmates, all in for drug offenses
12:56 Every single one of them emphasized the fact that they had done something wrong, they are prepared to take responsibility for it, but they also urged us to think about how society could've reached them earlier on in life to keep them out of trouble 13:14
14:44 This is a outstanding institution within the system, and yet they've got enormous overcrowding issues 14:52
cell in a 9x10 -- holds 3 people due to overcrowding
15:44 A lot of this though is going to have to happen at the state level. 15:47 My goal is that we start seeing some improvements at the federal level and we're then able to see states across the country pick up the baton. 15:58
16:40 These are young people who made mistakes that aren't that different from the mistakes I made and the mistakes that a lot of you guys made. 16:48
16:50 The difference is, they did not have the kind of support structures, the second chances, the resources that would allow them to survive those mistakes. 17:01
17:07 I think we have a tendency sometimes to almost take for granted of think it's normal that so many young people end up in our criminal justice system. It's not normal. 17:22 It's not what happens in other countries. 17:26
17:38 We've got to be able to distinguish between dangerous individuals who need to be incapacitated and incarcerated vs young people who are in an environment in which they are adapted, but if given different opportunities, a different vision of life, could be thriving in the way we are. 18:01
Asked what struck him most about the visit, Obama said "Visiting with these individuals."
"When they describe their youth, these are young people who made mistakes that aren't that different from the mistakes I made, and the mistakes that a lot of you guys made. The difference is that they did not have the kind of support structures, the second chances, the resources that would allow them to survive those mistakes"
"We have a tendency sometimes to take for granted or think it's normal that so many youn people end up in our criminal justice system. It's not normal, it's not what happens in other countries. What is normal is teenagers doing stupid things. What is normal is young people who make mistakes. And we've got to be able to distinguish between dangerous individuals who need to be incapacitated and incarcerated versus young people who are in an environment in which they are adapting, but if given different opportunities, a different vision of life, they" could thrive.
"That's what strikes me, there but for the grace of God," he said. "And that is somethig that we all have to think about
White House says: BOP is going to issue a statement (will have link forthcoming) and is happy to answer other Qs by email -- send them to Judi Garrett (Samuels' right hand person): firstname.lastname@example.org
White House Reporter